How to Avoid Mediocre Leadership in Trying Times
In today’s complex world, leaders are being asked to step up in dynamic and unexpected ways.
Unfortunately, many of them are not equipped with the tools they need to lead under pressure. As a result, they fail to serve themselves and their employees effectively, and put the future of their entire organization at risk.
The Behaviors That Result in Mediocre Leadership
Today’s infographic from Vince Molinaro’s Accountable Leaders reveals the common behaviors that can result in leaders becoming mediocre due to mounting day-to-day pressures.
Order Vince Molinaro’s new book, Accountable Leaders
Leadership accountability is one of the most important ingredients for driving business growth and maintaining a healthy corporate culture.
How can leaders set the tone for accountability in their organization?
Accountable Leaders Invest in Themselves
Every leader has an obligation to their employees, their customers and their community, but failing to put themselves first could have serious consequences—and cause a ripple effect across other parts of the business.
In fact, 40% to 80% of a manager’s time is spent on activities that add little to no value, when the majority of their time should be spent investing in their personal development.
By not having a holistic view of their development, leaders succumb to the day-to-day challenges that come with managing a company, such as:
- Getting in over their head
- Confusing acting rough with tough
- Mistaking effort for results
- Feeling like the victim
- Being insecure and unable to use their voice
- Constantly needing to hear good news
- Needing to win at all costs
- Waiting for permission to act from senior leaders
- Being driven to distraction and lacking focus
- Not learning from past mistakes
Moreover, if leaders struggle to meet expectations, the risk is that they either give up, or ultimately become a mediocre leader—but what exactly does that look like?
The Characteristics of a Mediocre Leader
Mediocre leadership has become remarkably commonplace, yet it is not always easy for organizations to identify.
Here are the five problematic characteristics of a mediocre leader:
- Blames others: Never personally acknowledges their role or contribution to any mistake or failure.
- Selfish and self-serving: Regularly acts out of self-interest and brings a sense of entitlement to the role.
- Uncivil and mean: Routinely mistreats, demeans and insults others, usually in public.
- Inept and incompetent: Makes bad decisions, resulting in a trail of disaster behind them.
- Lacks initiative: Looks for the easy way out by deflecting responsibility.
Leaders cite several reasons for falling into this mediocre leadership trap, including their fear failure, having unclear leadership expectations, and being overloaded with tasks that could be delegated elsewhere.
The Danger of Mediocre Leadership
It comes as no surprise that this style of leadership has a negative impact on employees, with 73% claiming that they spend a significant amount of time dealing with problems that arise from an ineffective manager.
However, employees will put up with a mediocre leader because they find the work itself meaningful, or they value the relationship they have with their peers.
But while mediocre leaders can bring a team closer together through their collective misery, eventually this reaches a tipping point which could result in a high staff turnover or low rates of employee engagement.
Avoid a Culture of Mediocrity
As we navigate uncertain waters, leaders must not only demonstrate agility and resilience—they must also advocate for a culture of accountability.
”Senior leaders create the culture and set the tone for the organization. It’s imperative that they drive the set of behaviors influencing the behaviors of the next line leaders.”
—Molinaro, Vince (2020), Accountable Leaders.
But in order to maintain accountability across an organization, mediocre behavior must be addressed, and difficult decisions will need to be made.
How Disinflation Could Affect Company Financing
History signals that after a period of slowing inflation—also known as disinflation—debt and equity issuance expands.
How Disinflation Could Affect Company Financing
The macroeconomic environment is shifting. Since the second half of 2022, the pace of U.S. inflation has been dropping.
We explore how this disinflation may affect company financing in Part 2 of our Understanding Market Trends series from Citizens.
Disinflation vs. Deflation
The last time inflation climbed above 9% and then dropped was in the early 1980’s.
|Time Period||March 1980-July 1983||June 2022-April 2023*|
|Inflation at Start of Cycle||14.8%||9.1%|
|Inflation at End of Cycle||2.5%||4.9%|
* The June 2022-April 2023 cycle is ongoing. Source: Federal Reserve. Inflation is based on the Consumer Price Index.
A decrease in the rate of inflation is known as disinflation. It differs from deflation, which is a negative inflation rate like the U.S. experienced at the end of the Global Financial Crisis in 2009.
How might slowing inflation affect the amount of debt and equity available to companies?
Looking to History
There are many factors that influence capital markets, such as technological advances, monetary policy, and regulatory changes.
With this caveat in mind, history signals that both debt and equity issuance expand after a period of disinflation.
Companies issued low levels of stock during the ‘80s disinflation period, but issuance later rose nearly 300% in 1983.
Source: Bloomberg. U.S. public equity issuance dollar volume that includes both initial and follow-on offerings and excludes convertibles.
Issuance grew quickly in the years that followed. Other factors also influenced issuance, such as the macroeconomic expansion, productivity growth, and the dotcom boom of the ‘90s.
Similarly, companies issued low debt during the ‘80s disinflation, but levels began to increase substantially in later years.
|Year||Deal Value||Interest Rate|
Source: Dealogic, Federal Reserve. Data reflects U.S. debt issuance dollar volume across several deal types including: Asset Backed Securities, U.S. Agency, Non-U.S. Agency, High Yield, Investment Grade, Government Backed, Mortgage Backed, Medium Term Notes, Covered Bonds, Preferreds, and Supranational. Interest Rate is the 10 Year Treasury Yield.
As interest rates dropped and debt capital markets matured, issuing debt became cheaper and corporations seized this opportunity.
It’s worth noting that debt issuance was also impacted by other factors, like the maturity of the high-yield debt market and growth in non-bank lenders such as hedge funds and pension funds.
Then vs. Now
Could the U.S. see levels of capital financing similar to what happened during the ‘80s disinflation? There are many economic differences between then and now.
Consider how various indicators differed 10 months into each disinflationary period.
|January 1981||April 2023*|
Next 12 Months
10-Yr Treasury Yield
|Nominal Wage Growth|
Annual, Seasonally Adjusted
|After-Tax Corporate Profits|
As Share of Gross Value Added
* Data for inflation expectations and interest rate is as of May 2023, data for corporate profits is as of Q4 1980 and Q1 2023. Inflation is a year-over-year inflation rate based on the Consumer Price Index. Source: Federal Reserve.
The U.S. economy is in a better position when it comes to factors like inflation, unemployment, and corporate profits. On the other hand, fears of an upcoming recession and turmoil in the banking sector have led to volatility.
What to Consider During Disinflation
Amid uncertainty in financial markets, lenders and investors may be more cautious. Companies will need to be strategic about how they approach capital financing.
- High-quality, profitable companies could be well positioned for IPOs as investors are placing more focus on cash flow.
- High-growth companies could face fewer options as lenders become more selective and could consider alternative forms of equity and private debt.
- Companies with lower credit ratings could find debt more expensive as lenders charge higher rates to account for market volatility.
In uncertain times, it’s critical for businesses to work with the right advisor to find—and take advantage of—financing opportunities.
Learn more about working with Citizens.
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